The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are sinking like a rock. After starting the season 3-1 they have now lost four games in a row to drop to 3-5. Things are looking bleak for this Bucs team and we will officially reach dire status if they lose this weekend.
Luckily, this weekend matchup has all the makings of a game that should get the Buccaneers back on track. Tampa Bay will host the Tennessee Titans who are 3-5 on the season as well. Although these two teams may have the same record, the Buccaneers are undoubtedly more talented and should win this game.
However, that was the case last week against the Houston Texans. It was also the case when they lost to the Atlanta Falcons a few weeks ago. If the Buccaneers want to save their season, I will have to win these key matchups.
Slowing the Titans pass rush
When talking about the Titans, the conversation starts and ends with a Defensive line. Jeffrey Simmons is one of the most disruptive, defensive tackles in the NFL. Alongside him are Harold Landry and Denico Autry, who are also very good in terms of causing chaos in the backfield.
Blocking this group upfront is the most important thing in the Buccaneers have to do this weekend. If they can limit, the Titans pass rush the back seven isn’t strong enough to slow offenses down. Even in a difficult matchup, I think the bucks are well-suited to handle this task.
We already know how good Tristan Wirfs and Luke Goedeke you have been this year. The two make for one of the best offensive tackle duos in the entire NFL. All the questions of the Bucs office of wine lie on the interior.
Even in this aspect, the Interior office of line has done well in pass blocking this year. Rookie right guard Cody Mauch has been much better than expected and as well ahead of schedule in terms of his development. Even in center Robert Hainsey has shown he can hold his own in this aspect.
I would be lying if the presence of Simmons in this game didn’t make me nervous. Regardless of who is playing against, that will always be an advantage for the Titans. However, this box offensive line has proven this year that they are a very capable pass blocking unit.
Rattling the rookie quarterback
Last week the Bucs didn’t do a good enough job putting pressure on rookie quarterback CJ Stroud. This week they will have another opportunity to go against a rookie quarterback in Will Levis. The Bucs must do a better job of applying pressure in this game.
Keep in mind that Stroud was a top five pick for the Texans for a reason. There was also a reason that Levis slipped to the second round. Despite a hot first two games in the NFL Levis is a far inferior quarterback prospect than Stroud was.
Much of this is related to his pocket presence. Going back to his college days, Levis struggled to feel pressure and was often the victim of blindside hits. This cannot lead to forced fumbles and missed throws. I have no reason to believe that that shouldn’t still be the case for a rookie playing in his third NFL game.
Whether it be with the front four, or with the blitz, the more heat Todd Bowles can put on Levis the better. If the likes of Calijah Kancey, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Shaq Barrett can disrupt his rhythm, then I expect this to be a long day for Tennessee.
Bounce back for Buccaneers secondary
Last Sunday was a rough day for the Buccaneers passing defense. Frankly, that has been the case most weeks this year, but last week stung in particular. This is mainly because the Bucs star players played very poorly.
I have been very critical this year of Todd Bowles and his unwillingness to play more aggressive, man-to-man defense. This is lead to easy completions, and the Buccaneers being one of the worst passing defenses, and worst third down defenses in the entire NFL. To this point that has been a coaching issue.
There was still some of that last week and it’s still frustrating to watch. However, the likes of Carlton Davis will be the first to tell you that the players didn’t play well enough when put in the right position last week. If the Buccaneers stars aren’t going to shine, and this team has zero chance of winning.
If the Bucs secondary were healthy, then I would say this would be a great bounce back spot. At this point, it is unclear if either Carlton Davis (toe) or Jamel Dean (concussion) will play this week. Hopefully one, if not both, will be ready to go. If not, Zyon McCullum will have to step in and anchor this cornerback group as a second year pro.